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Aghaye Doctor blows minds
Dr. Farhang Holakouee has become a prophet of sorts -- and a benevolent one

January 30, 2003
The Iranian

There is a new Iranian celebrity in Los Angeles. This one does not sing, nor does he dance. He doesn't appear on Iranian television shows, and he is too old to be a Pop icon. But he has an army of followers who revere his every word and turn to him for guidance.

He is Farhang Holakouee, simply referred to as "Aghaye Doctor" by countless radio listeners who tune into his daily show every day in Los Angeles.

Dr. Holakouee runs a daily two-hour program that attempts to answer callers' questions regarding marriage, parenting, and even deeper psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. In between, and through his responses to callers, he also disperses advice on topics ranging as wide as handling Iranian mothers-in-laws to the nature of God and humanity.

After nearly two years on the radio and countless conferences (which he conducts around the city) you would expect he, like many other overnight sensations in this town, would slowly fall out of favor and be a side show to the life of Iranians here in Southern California. But passage of time only seems to have widened his reach and deepened his influence.

There is now few others who command the respect and authority that he enjoys. And this respect and sense of authority is no fluke. His knowledge of Iranian culture and both its negative as well as positive effects on the psyche of Iranians is deep. He dissects the words, emotions and motivations of his Farsi-speaking callers sometimes with the precision of a surgeon, sometimes with compassion of a father and quite often with a brutality that feels like a kick in the gut.

On a normal day, he cautions parents on the absolute necessity of allowing their offspring space and autonomy, admonishes couples on accepting the realities of marriage away from foolish wide-eyed ignorance of their parents' generation and then snaps at those who avoid responsibility for their own actions.

At the same time Holakouee interjects and peppers his discussion with psychological analyses that brings mental health into Iranian community not as stigma-ridden issue but as a real topic in need of constant attention and education.

Dr. Holakouee, who has a thriving side business conducting group conferences for the young and old, is not universally liked. There are many in the community who abhor his iconic rise and cannot wait for his overthrow. His prescriptions for avoiding many Iranian traits which he calls false and deceitful, and his in-your-face criticism of traditional Iranian thinking has alienated many hardcore traditionalists who find him vulgar and disruptive.

Add his leadership qualities, which has put fear into the mind of those who link him to political aspirations. This fear briefly came to fruition recently when "Aghaye Doctor" organized the most comprehensive, orderly and effective demonstration of Iranians in Los Angeles against the detention of Iranians for alleged immigration violations.

And although his actions brought calls from around the world for more active political involvement, he quickly returned to what he did best, administering psychotherapy to the masses thru the radio.

Dr. Holakouee's story is still in development, but his is worth following closely. Every week, 30-40 callers willingly offer their most intimate issues on the radio for him to analyze and Iranians of greater Los Angeles to listen.

And more often than not, he responds in a way that restores hope, demands justice, criticizes falsehood and pushes his listeners to unmask the issues for what they really are - a notion quite foreign to our culture and tradition. For this, he has become a prophet of sorts and a benevolent one: a man who is very determined to overthrow idols, cut through a myriad of cultural and social infections and get to the truth.

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By Ramin Tabib




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